A ‘poverty hygiene’ crisis that affects men, women and families around the country is being helped by children at Newington Community Primary School in Ramsgate.
They have donated a range of essential hygiene, personal care and beauty products for a charity called The Hygiene Bank which seeks to ‘tackle the shame, exclusion and isolation that often comes alongside hygiene poverty.’
Pupils filled two large plastic bins in the school reception area with an array of relevant goods after the charity project was flagged up to the school by Libby Jones from Ramsgate, who is raising awareness about the personal care needs of so many people living in poverty.
She said: “It is a devastating fact that one in five people in the UK live in poverty and long before they go to a food bank, they stop buying toiletries.
“Following the same principle as a food bank, we collect unused, unopened and in-date products like shampoo, washing powder, nappies, deodorant, sanitary wear, shower gel and then sort/distribute all items to local charities such as women’s refuges, night shelters, social services and children’s centres.
“We have drop off locations throughout the country and I am currently looking to set some up around Thanet.”
The Newington collection generated 45 kilos of goods that will be distributed to the Oasis women’s refuge by Libby on behalf of the charity.
She added: “The Newington response is so positive. I have been heartened by the school’s support which marks the start of the campaign locally. Hygiene poverty is a lot closer than we think.”
If families would like to extend beyond the school collection drive, the campaign advises using a reusable bag in the home that can filled up over time with hygiene essentials and then taken to the local drop off point when full.
Thanet’s first drop off point is at Haeckels, the natural brand and laboratory-shop opposite The Lido at Cliff Terrace in Cliftonville. The aim is for further collection areas in major centres in Ramsgate and Broadstairs.
Official figures for the country show that 80 per cent of teachers say pupils are bullied for hygiene reasons and 37% of people in the UK go without hygiene essentials because they can’t afford them.
Head Teacher Cliff Stokes said: “It is scandalous in this day and age that so many families and individuals are in such desperate need. Our school community is happy to help support any initiative that makes life a little better for those in dire circumstances.
“At Newington we ensure our children are aware of equality of opportunities for all and of social responsibility for others when it is needed.
“Supporting the Hygiene Bank initiative is a worthwhile cause and hygiene poverty, which is something that does not get the high profile attention it so clearly needs, clearly reverberated with our pupils, families and staff who were keen to help out.”
The large plastic bins were handed over to a representative from the charity by two senior Newington pupils.
You can contact Libby Jones for more hygiene bank information and to offer suggestions or help for the local service via this email address – firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is a Foodbank at St Paul’s Church, Cliftonville that always needs hygeine products for users of the service. A nightshelter operates there also until end of March. People can drop items in to the volunteers Mon, Tue and Thursdays between 10.30 and 12.00 noon.